raising little ones in the great outdoors

Open Eyes — Surfing After Kids

By Danny Maynor

Jurassic Five blasts out of my alarm at 6:00 in the morning. I’m out of bed before the second note, rushing to turn the alarm off before it wakes up Laura and Levi sleeping next to me. If Levi wakes up, it’s going to take a lot longer to get things together. First things first — start the coffee.  Then, a quick yoga session in a feeble attempt to loosen shoulders tightened up by a week of hunching over a keyboard.

I don’t want to wake Laura yet — she never gets enough rest — but I know the tide is moving up. She needs the rest and that’s more important to me now than getting the ideal tide. I pour a cup of coffee, sneak out the front door, praying the loud squeak doesn’t wake anyone, especially the dogs. I actually go get our cockapoo, Rasta, and make him watch me open the door, otherwise he freaks out barking, a pint-sized fur-ball trying to protect his family from whatever unseen evil might be making the uninvited noise. That would mean a wide-awake crying baby. Can’t have that.

I quietly open up the garage and start loading up. It’s a waist to chest high day so I’m taking the fish, plus Levi’s coming and isn’t a fan of the extra draft that pours in through the open back window with the longboard hanging out. The 6’2″ fish fits like a glove. Wetsuit, towel, and I’m good to go. The water temp is upper 50’s so I don’t need booties, not until it gets down to 55 degrees or so, unless I’m going somewhere with a cobblestone bottom that will tear my girly little feet up, then I’ll wear booties starting at 58-59 degrees. I’m a wimp like that.

I wake Laura first. To be effective, I need a cup of coffee in my hand. I’m the morning person in the family. While she’s getting up I go get Levi. As soon as I pick him up he slowly regains consciousness, jerking his head up to wobble around, still unsteady when his neck is relaxed from sleeping. He yawns, rubs his eyes, and realizes I’m holding him, recognition then a huge toothless smile comes across his face. I sense he’s going to be a morning person too. He’s still smiling and talking to me while I finish changing his diaper.

levi_onsurfboard_mar09By the time we arrive at the beach, I’m thinking about a lot more than just the perfect left reeling off down the sandbar. I’m thinking about Levi and about how much fun this will be when he can join me in the water. I kiss the family, give Laura my wedding ring to hold (can’t have that falling off in the water!) and run into the ocean. Duck-diving my first wave, I make sure to keep my eyes open. Going through the green water and seeing the sunlight filtering through the bubbles stirred up by the passing wave is an amazing feeling. It’s the ocean’s way of welcoming me back — a quick embrace from a good friend not seen in a while.

As the first wave comes in, I wait until the last second to watch it approach. With a few quick strokes I feel my power being replaced by that of the wave and I accelerate. Hopping to my feet I glide down the face, bottom turn and look down the line. A quick pump and adjustment and I’m in perfect trim, almost surprising considering how long it has been since I’ve been in the water. I ease my weight forward. The board accelerates even more. I am a part of the ocean’s energy. I am no longer myself. I am the wave, maybe even just a ripple on the face of the wave. The wave and I glide forward with a singular focus. Time stands still. Everything is clear.

I can see the wave closing out ahead of me and prepare for one last turn into the oncoming whitewater. As I come out of the moment, I glide briefly toward the beach, scanning quickly to see Laura and Levi. Laura is waving, and I like to think Levi saw me too, even though he’s probably just staring at the sand wondering what the soft grainy stuff he’s sitting in is. Ready to repeat the experience, I wave back, and turn to the outside, dropping down and paddling again for the horizon.

I may not get out in the water as much as I did before I became a “family man” but if quality over quantity fits anywhere in life this is it. It’s not as easy to get out of the house, and admittedly, I don’t surf as much. After all the effort though, the rewards are worth the extra organization to spend a day at the ocean with my family.

surfcheck_mar09I paddle back out. Duck dive beneath the wave and open my eyes again. In the past year, this has become a central metaphor in my life. Just mere steps into this journey of parenting, I’ve realized that there are so many moments I’d been missing. Paddling out towards the comfort and safety outside the breakers, I used to see the darkness of a powerful wave impeding my progress. Now, if I’m willing to open my eyes while I’m beneath the wave, I see light. I see every individual ripple and undulation of energy. It’s beautiful, sustaining. It’s everything thing I need to get my through the next dry spell.

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5 Responses to “Open Eyes — Surfing After Kids”

  1. Steve says:

    Very cool, good job Danny!

  2. Stray Cat says:

    Brings back memories. We used to take turns, “tag windsurfing.” While one of us would be out, the other would be pushing the twin jog stroller. A little goes a long way indeed. Good times!

  3. Mike says:

    Great article. It sounds so much like my life at the moment. Trying to find as many outdoor activities for my wife and little girl. Luckily beach days are good once we got the easy-up for some shade when needed. Still working on the climbing/bouldering day trips.

  4. Kevin says:

    Another kindred spirit! Each session appreciated 10 fold due to the effort required. And then the joy of returning to the family who sees the smile on your face and mirror it back.
    mahalo and aloha for a wonderful article

  5. Nice! Great job Danny.. You sure you love surfing so much.. Keep up the good work.

    “Honesty is the best policy.”

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